The Season Gets Glowing / from tapers to tea lights, candles make the holidays bright

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When it comes to decorating, it's time to light up. And you

don't have to flip a switch or plug anything in. Candles are nice in any

season, but they can add an especially warm and festive glow to the holidays.

Susan Pepper knows this. The Valley Stream mother of three relaxes after a

hectic day with the soothing aromas of scented candles - raspberry, honeydew,

vanilla and ocean mist are among her favorites. She has the perfect job for a

candle aficionado. She's a consultant for PartyLite, a candle company based in

Massachusetts. "When I come home and I light my three- wick candles, I could

melt like the candle," she says. "It soothes me. They light up the house and

they smell good."

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But at this time of the year, as Hanukkah draws near, Pepper admits she

goes a little crazy with candles - particularly in the blue and white motif

that reflects the flag of Israel. Tapers and tea lights on the tables. Votives

on the windowsills. Big candles, little candles. Candles in stands and candles

in sconces. Candles in the fireplace, candles on the mantel.

Candles, says interior designer Lynn Gerhard, are "like twinkling stars in

the night sky. I love the ambience they add to a room. And I happen to think

that little bit of sparkle adds energy to the room." She uses candles in her

own home in Islip.

"I like to use a lot of candles on the mantel in front of the mirror so it

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looks like you have even more lights flickering," says Gerhard. "I put them on

the stoop and the walkway for people coming in. It's a very festive feeling."

That feeling may have something to do with the popularity of candles at

holiday time. Without a doubt, this season "is by far the busiest time of

year," says Susan Stockman, director of public relations for Yankee Candle, in

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South Deerfield, Mass.

"There's something primal about candles," says Bob Sherman, a 30-year

veteran in the candle business who owns Bobby's Craft Boutique in Williston

Park and hosts the candle and soap-making discussion on www.about.com.

Gerhard agrees. "There's a sense of history that goes along with lighting

candles," she says. "People lived only by candlelight for a very long time. It

brings us back to our roots."

"If you think about it, we celebrate all of life's passages with candles,"

says Lyn Peterson, author of Lyn Peterson's Real Life Decorating (Creative

Homeowner Press, $21.95) and a consultant to the National Candle Association in

Washington, D.C. "Candles are the perfect way to combine tradition with the

newest trends. They come in an almost infinite variety of up-to-the-minute

colors and designs, while also capturing the traditional spirit." One of her

suggestions is to jazz things up with bold contemporary hues such as plum,

berry and fuschia. Or tweak the classic Christmas palette by using apple green

and lipstick red.

But whatever your traditions or color scheme, candles can light up your

decor and warm your holidays. Susan Goffman sticks with neutral tones, like

cream and white, to dress up the dining room buffet in her Sands Point home.

Then she adds a splash of seasonal color - surrounding the candles with

cranberries and pinecones. She uses candelabra instead of overhead lighting for

ambience and mirrors as place mats to reflect the shimmering light. "I like

the luminescence, the reflection," she says.

As Pepper and Goffman can attest, decorating with candles is as easy as

mixing and matching colors, sizes and shapes. Candles know no boundaries - you

can use them in the bedroom, bath or kitchen - as long as you keep safety in

mind. Fragrant candles in the foyer offer a sweet welcome to family and

friends, and the scents of pine, cranberry, juniper or gingerbread are just the

thing to make your home feel cozy during the cold winter.

Here are some ideas for using candles to add sparkle to your home this

season. But once again, remember to play it safe:

Make a shimmering centerpiece with pillar candles of varying heights on a

pretty tray or platter.

Frame classic red and green candles with a Christmas wreath laid flat on a

table.

Place candy-cane-striped candles on a silver tray or mirror and circle them

with red pepperberries and holly leaves.

Tie a green or red satin ribbon around the base of a candlestick and let

the ends cascade onto the mantel or table.

Decorate gold, white and silver candles with costume jewelry. Surround the

base of a candle with rhinestones and crystals, or wrap the candle with a

string of fake pearls.

Create a Mexican-inspired look with terra-cotta candles displayed in

punched tin holders, or use rustic wooden candlesticks and chile-pepper wreaths.

Make a reflecting-pool centerpiece by filling a large bowl with floating

candles. Surround the bowl with holly or pillar candles.

Spell out "joy" or "peace" or any holiday wish using clear glass votive

holders.

Place a dozen white pillar candles on bricks set at different heights to

replace the glow of burning embers in the fireplace.

Line your walkway, patio or front porch with luminarias - special paper

bags with cut-out shapes that are highlighted by the candles' glow.

Debbe Geiger is a freelance writer.

BURNING SAFELY

Candles are a fire hazard only if used improperly. The National Candle

Association offers these safety tips:

Keep burning candles away from flammable objects, including other

decorations.

Keep burning candles within sight, and out of reach of

children and pets.

Trim candlewicks to � inch before lighting. Long or crooked wicks cause

uneven burning and dripping. Put matches away.

Burn candles in well-

ventilated rooms, but avoid placing them near open windows or drafts.

Place candles on heat-

resistant surfaces designed for candle use. Make sure the holder is large

enough to catch dripping wax.

Retire votives and other candles in containers when � inch of unmelted wax

remains. Blow out tapers and pillars when they're within 2 inches of the tops

of their holders.

Position candles at least 3 inches apart.

Extinguish candles with a snuffer or candle quencher so hot wax doesn't

splatter. Never use water.

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